Painting is something we love to do, we haven't painted since the last time we were present in The Other Girls, which was right before she moved to the place we now call home, despite the fact that The Father keeps trying to convince us where he thinks our home should be; that is not our home. It may have been TOG's home, but even she loved it here so much that she tried to keep me away, for fear that I would make her leave a place she loves.
The Other Girl painted a bit on her own, right after moving to Home, but fate had other plans for her after my departure from her life, yet again; fate always had other plans for her.
This is the Story of Frank's Coma and departure from TOG's Life...
In 2004, the same year we lost 100 pounds together, TOG ended up in a car accident. Having decided to take a vacation on her own one labour day weekend, TOG met a man who was the sole reason for moving away from her country of birth. The details of the man are irrelevant for now, we will be writing about him someday; he's not a love of our life, he was a "love" of TOG's, and therefore not relevant.
It was a winter day in December, the weather was unusually warm. TOG and Talented Boyfriend were on their way home from The Mothers house, having gone there to collect her final belongings. The weather was so nice, in fact, that they took their winter coats off and placed them in the back seat of the 1990's SUV.
Most of this trip was uneventful, involving the usual bits conversations with TOG paging through a magazine, while Talented Boyfriend concentrated on the music streaming from the playlist on the car stereo, music he was learning for an upcoming gig.
It being winter, it got dark early, which it is known to do in these parts. They were about an hour and a half from home when TB commented on an oncoming semi-truck, on the other side of the divided highway, flashing it's high beams in our direction. They figured that the semi was flashing it's lights to warn oncoming traffic about highway patrol cars. TB slowed to just below 75 mph and they began scanning the dark horizon for signs of patrol, exchanging light banter.
At this point details are fuzzy, not because TOG hadn't relayed the information properly to us before we gave her the boot, but because she, herself, had only bits of memories about the minutes leading up to the accident. She recalled seeing a road sign, she recalled the last song on the car radio (because TB had been learning this song); then there is blank space.
The sign she remembered seeing was many miles from the accident sight. From that sign the next thing she remembered was looking down the highway and seeing a massive wall. She remembered turning her head to the left, towards TB, raising her right arm to cover her face, and screaming.
The next thing she could recall is lights in her eyes. She woke up in the bucket seat of the old SUV, that didn't have airbags, with the seat twisted to the right, and her legs dangling out the passenger door. The paramedics were talking to her but she could not respond right away. Her right arm was searing with pain and she was unable to move it. Noticing the weather had gotten much colder, she scanned the scence with her eyes, because she couldn't move her neck, and took in what she could. A car jammed beneath the trailer of a semi, the semi they had hit at 75 mph; debris; and the reflection of lights bouncing off, the now ice covered interstate highway.
|The Vehicle, in the light of day|
The paramedics managed to extract TB from the drivers side, and moved on to the next issue of removing TOG. They asked her to try to stand, but even in her shocked state she knew that was a bad idea; they agreed. She rememebered wondering where these paramedics had been trained, a question that would echo through her head over the next couple weeks as she tried to get The Medical Professional to study her medical file closer, but that's another story, one that The Father can back up.
They decided the way to remove her from the vehicle would be to lean her back gently on a stretcher board, strap her down and slide her out over the drivers seat.
She asked them where they were going to take her, as they prepared her for being strapped in, knowing that there were no good hospitals nearby, being on the interstate in a rural area. They said they were taking her to a local hospital in a small town, but she asked if she could be taken back to the city where The Mother lived, where there was a real Emergency Room; they agreed that they would take both TOG and TB back to The City, where, it turned out later, they would have had to take them anyway, given the small towns inability to handle such an accident.
From what we can tell of her story at this point, we can only concur that she was in shock, as she managed to give them contact inforamtion so that they could call The Mother, who could call The Father many more miles away, and round up The Brothers; and also call TB's family. She remembered staring at the celeiving of the ambulance, calmly thinking to herself, "Wow, this is a whole different experience". She wasn't in the severest of pain just yet; that was to come later...and for the rest of OUR life.
She laughed every time she recalled how upset she had been when they had to cut off her favourite, and only, pair of size 8 jeans. Having lost the 100 pounds that year, this was the smallest size she had achieved.
The ride felt like it took forever, when in reality it was less than an hour. She hadn't shed a tear yet, was merely processing what had happened.
The next thing she knew she was being pulled from her ambulance, unable to see TB was also being pulled his. He was able to spot her, having neck mobility, and through the crisp December air, she heard him call out the special nickname he had created for her.
Shortly after she was laying in the emergency room, asking questions about TBs injuries, and her own. She still hadn't started crying from the fear or the pain, perhaps she still had a little of me lingering, despite my departure. She didn't know to whom she addressed her next words, but as the shock wore off, she remembered crying, saying "I want my mom, where is my mom. Mom".
TOG remembered The Mother near her bed, and Angry Brother crying as he looked over his broken, bruised, Big Sister. She asked if it looked bad, and he told her a lie, and said it wasn't bad. Later he would tell her the truth and tell her about their lawyer uncle, who happened to be in town, who had told family members that she may need reconstructive surgery on her face.
The damages to her face, as later realized, had not been long lasting. The injuries sustained where head trauma, fractured ribs and breaks in her spine at two separate locations. She had been lucky enough to miss the C2 (Hangman's Fracture) by one vertebra, injuries being concentrated in the neck from C-3 to C-7, and in all Lumbar vertebra.
Eventually they moved her to a hospital room on her own, where she began inquiring about TB and his injuries. He had been admitted to intensive care, along with a young gentleman from one of the other cars, who would later pass away, within days of the accident.
They hooked TOG up to a Morphine drip, gave her reign over the controlled doses. It was about a dose as rapidly as every 10-15 minutes, initialized by pushing a button with her thumb. The pain was amazingly terrible, and so TOG continuously pressed the button, so she could get the next dose as soon as it was available.
Whether it was because of a mis-calculation in dose, or her inability to handle Morphine, emergency was called, and nurse was stationed next to her bed with a breathing machine, because TOG was in so much pain she managed to overdose, and began passing out, and intermittently stopped breathing.
Finally they got it balanced out and TOG came to, right into a fog. She remembered, slightly, not being able to control things coming out of her mouth, and family members can recall having to go into the hall to laugh because of the ridiculous things she was saying, and they thought laughing in front of her may not be the best idea.
After a couple days, much more coherent, TOG convinced the hospital staff to let her and TB share a hospital room. They made the best of what they could, The Families adorned them with leis, and funny hats, as they celebrated their first New Years together, side by side, each in their own hospital bed.
A week later TOG was released and went to stay with The Mother, so she could visit TB while he was in recovery at the hospital; TB's injuries included, a broken femur and a fractured sternum, injuries that confined him to a wheel chair for several months. Eventually he got released from the hospital and sent Home.
A few weeks later The Father took The Other Girl to live with TB in a retirement residence, in the city that we call Home. Their loft apartment was not wheel chair accessible, so here, among the aging, they shared a guest room and adapted to the schedule of Retired People. The Other Girl assisted TB with accomplishing simple daily activities; pulling on his circulation socks so he wouln't get clots in his legs while sitting in a wheel chair all day, helping him dress, and aiding him in getting in and out of bed, and the shower; even as her own injuries were yet to heal.
They would celebrate their first Valentines Day together, in a large empty dining room of the retirement residence, over Subway sandwiches, which The Other Girl, injuries and all, trekked a few blocks to get.
They cheers'd over Coca Cola as the Bird of Paradise he had ordered her for this special occasion looked on at the empty space that surrounded them.
What remains of our injuries includes words such as mild brain damage, arthritis, annular tears in our spine, spurring, posterior protrusions, disk degeneration and desiccation, end-plate deformities, and mild spinal depressions - this directly from the box of medical records stowed in our closet that we pulled out this evening, just to be sure we use the right terms.
So, when we talk about our back and neck pain, as we experienced it tonight while trying to paint, taking breaks only to kneel, or lay, sobbing on the floor, this time not from anger at people, but from the sheer pain we are experiencing; know that while there are many struggles from our past, and even more we get to face for the future; we are happy to be able to paint at all, to write these words, to walk; even having our life come to this point, facing possible scrutiny from the world.
Others might say that it would have been less a struggle had we died that day, and we'd be lying if we said that there aren't days that we don't agree.